THE WAVE REACHES ANOTHER MILESTONE
Everybody Reads The Wave, Celebrating 125 years
After a fire that destroyed four city blocks worth of Rockaway Beach on September 21st, 1892, Rockaway residents read the headline, “Wave of Fire Sweeps Seaside”. A local printer decided that the Brooklyn and Hempstead newspapers could not cover the tragedy adequately and put out a broadsheet of his own to inform residents about the tragedy and recovery. Published in a hand printing shop on Eldert Avenue the news of that massive fire in the middle of the Rockaway peninsula, marked the beginning of an ongoing journey and the birth of an iconic community resource, The Wave.
125 years of quality news later, Susan Locke serves as Publisher of “The Wave” and has seen the publication through a host of community victories and tragedies. “Like much of Rockaway, The Wave lost pretty much everything in Super Storm Sandy, including more than a century’s worth of articles”. The Wave was shut down operations for four weeks after the storm but returned to their new office on top of the damaged building to business as usual to provide Rockaway residents with their weekly dose of community happenings. Despite the setback, The Wave continued to produce a weekly publication serving readers every Friday with a source of news in business, sports, community milestones, new legislation, editorials and more. The publication distributes in print and online with digital updates, small business consumer benefits and teaser articles that notify readers of what’s to come in the next edition.
In an interview with Editor Nicole Johnson, Susan Locke tells Nectar News about her experience with readers and employees of The Wave over the past 20 years..
“I have some people who have been working here for over 30 years. We have a staff of about 10 or 11 with sales personnel, part timers and freelancers who write cover stories for us. I feel like they all have a deep connection to this community. Once you’ve been here, even if you don’t live here now it sits with you forever. Like they say, it’s like you have sand in your shoes, you never go away”.
For over 25 years, the late Leon S. Locke served as Publisher of The Wave. Leon “had a visible and enduring effect on many aspects of life in the Rockaway community. He loved Rockaway and worked hard through its many organizations to improve the quality of life for all of Rockaway’s residents”. After Leon passed away in 2001, his wife Susan Locke stepped into the role of Publisher and is proud to produce quality work that truly speaks to the reality of the neighborhood. Write ups featuring local teachers, articles informing residents about new policies, highlighting local business and reminding readers of the neighborhood’s rich history are among the many journalistic successes of the publication.
In its 125 years of operation The Wave has made a home out of several Rockaway Beach locations. Currently operations are conducted at 88-08 Rockaway Beach Boulevard and back copies are on file at the Queensborough Public Library. The Wave focuses on producing quality articles and is proud to have a loyal and responsive readership that purchases over 12,000 newspapers every week at over 100 locations throughout the Rockaways and Broad Channel.
Current Publisher of The Wave Susan Locke joins Nectar News Editor Nicole Johnson for a discussion about resilience and sustainability in The Wave’s long history of publishing.
SL: When Hurricane Sandy hit, our offices were totally destroyed. We had four feet of water and we had to throw out everything and we were out of power for two and a half weeks. Luckily, I own the building so I had an empty office on the second floor and we moved up there. We built tables so that people could work. We received some computers that were donated to us by The Press Association and we started working up there for about three weeks. In those three weeks we didn’t publish at all, but during the fourth week we were able to reengage our readers with a new paper and continue to engage with a very loyal pool of subscribers.
NN: Congratulations. It’s definitely a testament to your journey of resilience and sustainability. We know you have a specific mission to provide news for Rockawayers, do you have any best practices for other hyper local papers?
SL: The only thing I can say is thank you to my staff for being so loyal and coming back to work. They really do a great job and without that loyalty it’s hard to do my job as a publisher.
NN: From my understanding of the paper, The Wave works in a silo and through every single tragedy that has struck the Rockaways the paper seems to persevere. You serve a unique function being the main paper in the area. Can you tell us more about how you are building community with your publishing goals ?
SL: We are different than many other publishers. All the other publishers own more than one paper. It’s very rare that you find someone who only owns one. We only own one because that’s all we can do. It takes a lot of energy and we are serious about our quality. Yes we are hyper local and our news is local. We don’t touch on news that comes from other areas. We focus on what’s happening here and how we can help and inform the public about what’s going on. There are a lot of issues out here, for example, they just closed eleven blocks of our beaches and we seek to keep news like this in the forefront. Our front pages are always about what’s happening here. We are also highly focused on quality and that’s what we sell to our advertisers. We have artists who work here and produce the advertising material because that’s our bread and butter, it’s not the sale of the paper. There are many papers who will farm their advertising out and they’ll work with a third party to produce the material, but we don’t do that. We keep the jobs here, that’s always been very important to me that the jobs stay here. As long as we can afford to do that, we do it.
To learn more about The Wave visit the links below.